Urban Nigeria

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The Two Nigerias

Please listen/read attentively…

Yesterday, christmas day 2011, was not a day I’ll want to remember too easily. Unfortunately however, I’m forced to. Bombs destroying totally innocent people, whole families who had only gone to church to celebrate the birth of the infant Jesus! How do you explain that ehn? So before I continue with this blog post I’d like to say sincerely to all Boko Haram members and affiliates, on behalf of all well-meaning Nigerians, it shall not be well with you anti-progressives. Haram, though it features on this post, is not today’s gist. Maybe the whole month of January will be dedicated to that.

My purpose right now however, in the light of recent happenings, is to inform you of the fact that there are two very distinct, far from complementary and somewhat antagonistic Nigerias. Yeah, you heard me. There are two Nigerias. And this is not something we should be proud about.

I’ll explain. These Nigerias have their respective names; there’s the Pro-Nigeria and then there’s the Anti-Nigeria. Pro-Nigeria is the Nigeria we are all proud of and that we readily associate ourselves with. Pro-Nigeria is the Nigerian artistes ‘repping’ abroad, the indigenous firms making waves in commerce and trailblazing national development, the Nigerian fashion designers, collections and shows, the crazy, fun-to-watch Nigerian TV shows, the buildings, roads and other infrastructure that make us stop for a second, the scenic nature of various landmarks. Pro-Nigeria is creative Nigeria, the Nigeria which inspired me to get this blog going in the first place. Sadly however, this entity seems not to be gaining that much ground, contrary to popular will. Seems, because Anti-Nigeria is giving her a good run for her money.

With not too great intuition and aided by the aforementioned, you’d be able to ascertain what Anti-Nigeria entails. See all that stuff you hear about bomb, and accident-causing road, and no water in airport or hospitals? That’s Anti-Nigeria, and I fear we have all become too familiar with her. Anti-Nigeria is the Nigeria that makes us go ‘ sha God dey’, the very much infuriating and frustrating component. God knows the government is the largest single unit in this body. Anti-Nigeria is the Nigeria I don’t want to dwell too much on.

Sadly however, most Nigerians don’t realize that Pro-Nigeria exists. Creative Nigeria is collectively relegated to the backs of our minds as a result of the devastating but dominant oddity that is Anti-Nigeria. And so when people think Nigeria, they only think about Boko Haram or the government’s incapacity or even fake Nollywoodness. They don’t think about the good stuff because after all the rubbish, they don’t believe that there IS any good stuff.

Bros, flex….

I think that the only way we’ll maximize national potential is if Creative Nigeria takes the front wheel. But how? That’s where talk of mass literacy comes in. Talk of sensitization and national re-orientation. Granted, these are necessities for national reformation but even more importantly, each and every Nigerian has to have that vehement belief, that unbreakable attraction to Nigeria and the sense of patriotism that comes with it. I think we’d only see a new Nigeria if we are able to bring creative Nigeria out of its very small, I dare say too-small-to-accommodate, hiding space. There’s so much promise just bursting at the seams. For the sake of all things good, let it rip that bloody garment apart.


Think about Nigeria …. in Private

Here’s my special 25/12 post. A very merry christmas to everyone who reads this young blog and supports the Nigerian struggle.

Now to the main story.

In the spirit of festivity and felicitations and celebration of progress from the beginning of the year till now, I’d like to celebrate the progress the Nigerian nation has made this past year. This would have been a more appropriate post for the 31st but what, you wan complain? Didn’t think so.

This past year has not exactly been the best for our beautiful nation. In fact, its been one of the worst years in modern (by modern I mean post-Abacha) Nigeria’s history because even though 2011 saw to the mellowing of M.E.N.D and our other angry brothers from the South, it saw to the unprecedented instigation of terrorist activities by the Boko Haram sect in the F.C.T , the apex of national security, the death of some of the finest minds in corporate Nigeria (Ibru, Aderinokun), and the more mundane, our national’s team failure to qualify for the Gabon/ Equatorial Guinea Nation’s Cup, etc. On the other hand, 2011 more than anything, brought to my notice the immense importance private businesses make to the overall development of our country. MTN did not smile at all when it celebrated 10 years of operation over here, Guinness invited the Argentines to play – and helped our tourism in no small way – and many other large and small-scale, well-established and up-and-coming Nigerian commercial enterprises played their parts in giving the country a boost in its entirety. Not to say the latter only watched with folded arms but in 2011, the private sector outshone the public sector in Nigeria.

Which is why I want to preach today….

Apapa Port, Lagos, Nigeria; Nigeria’s foremost industrial hub

You see, based on all my observations and on the aforementioned, I think the most assured way for Nigeria to progress as a nation is if the responsibility for development of the economy and of the nation as a whole is concentrated more in private hands. Yup. Let private-owned firms take a more ‘governmenty’ approach to business such that it’s not just about their pockets anymore but also about everything around them.  A newly established firm in being set up signs onto itself the responsibility of developing the community it is established in. That way communities all over Nigeria are developed. To enhance efficiency in this department, government – which in this case will perform a solely regulatory  purpose – would attach commercial connotations to this, tax holidays and what have you. But then corporate Nigeria would take the front seat and drive this car that is Nigeria speedily down the long but sparsely trodden road of progress.

Preach on brother.

But then I probably am just blabbing. I know nothing about the commercial implications about this possible heresy I speak so confidently. Well, I couldn’t care less. All I’m saying is that private is more effective, goal-driven, better-equipped (I dare say) than public and if we want to make progress, we should include more of commercial Nigeria in this country’s development. That’s what I think.

Dangote seems to think so too.

A Bit Adulterated (ABA)

Are you a football afficionado? Then this has probably gotten to you. Or you’re a die-hard fashionista/shopaholic? Probably got to you even before the football guy. Or maybe youre just an admiring, window-shopper kind of person? Still, sorry man.

Because Aba never smiles.

This has to be the most disgusting aspect of industrial/enterprising Nigeria. You know what I’m talking about, the inferior-quality objects of utter disgust manufactured in West Africa’s largest industrial hub; Aba, Nigeria. The stuff from here spoil within two days of purchase, can be priced mercilessly and worst of all, are branded horribly. For Tafawa’s sake, how does Gucci become ‘Guggi’ or Louis Vuitton, ‘Lousy Vuitton’?? The funny thing about Aba is that it’s patronage is unprecedentedly high. There are a lot of Nigerians who fall victim to this commercial mishap either due to their ignorance of the market or their financial statuses. After all, na condition wey bend creyfish.

Market Shop in Aba, Nigeria.

The thing that pains me most about Aba is that in everyone of those fake goods, those despicable insults to people who love fine tin (excuse me), I see potential, and an acute marginalization of skill. I see something good as a foregone alternative, something that if the manufacturer had put more time and more effort into, and ignored his desire for immediate popularity and patronage (because to me, that’s the only reason why someone would go ahead and call his hand-made boxers Hilfiger) would have resulted in not only a fine consumer good, but in a stellar new, ‘Proudly Nigerian’ outfit. Our brothers in Aba have the manufacturing skills, the marketing prowess and everything else but just like Mojojojo, the main antagonist from the hit Cartoon Network series ‘The Powerpuff girls’, they choose to use it for EVIL!!!

I think it would be lovely if we had some crazy ‘Made in Nigeria’, stuff that would trend worldwide and would be admired by all, wouldn’t it? The Deola Sagoes, Lanre Da Silvas, Bridgdet Awosikas, the Coscharises (who want to manufacture the first made in Nigeria automobile) and all other creative, enterprising Nigerians are already blazing the trail in this department. Now all we need is for Aba in its entirety to stop copy-cating, and follow suit.

And can someone please explain to me what Arno is?

NOTE: It is to be noted that not everything made in Aba is fake. I repeat, not everything made in Aba is fake. (that being said I hoped you liked this article).

Let’s think Lagos-York

Lagos city some say, is the city that never sleeps. If you ask me, they could not have put it any better. As Nigeria’s foremost metropolitan powerhouse,Lagos is considered equivalent (in terms of urban significance) to New York City and London, Tokyo and Jo’burg, Munich,  etc. This makes sense as these are all cities that are inhabited by the bulk of the urban population in their various countries. However, the story is altered totally when these cities are weighed on the basis of urban superiority their nearness to the establishment of the ideal metropolis. In this case, Lagos is not a stone’s throw from say, New York City. Not even a pebble’s.

I believe the biggest problem in urban Nigeria is the inability of those concerned to draw-up effective, long-term solutions to the various drawbacks plaguing the urban area involved. Yes, we hear about vision this that and operation see saw, but we never get to experience these and even if we do, they don’t last long. Our maintenance culture is deplorable and quite simply, those urban area related, capital-intensive projects that should have been gotten running long ago are still waiting for the sound of the gun.

And still waiting.

I think it would be an amazing source of natural pride if Lagos was metamorphosed into an urban polity that would, by international standards, be rated one of the best places to live and work in the world. I think it would be lovely if there was an extensive railway network to combat that ‘headachy’ traffic (or if we can’t do rail, cable cars), if there was less waste thrown about recklessly, if non-erratic power supply did not exist, if the skyline became more ‘skyliney’, if the social dichotomy (the distinction between the rich and the poor) was not so apparent. All these would further enhance the liveliness and loveliness of Lagos today. The stuff that make a city are more than just stuff, they create an environment of urban magic where unlimited potential can be realized.

Times are changing and we should learn change with the times. Time to turn our jungles into concrete jungles of development.

I Think Nigeria calendar

June 2018
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